BIG STONE GAP — The back nine was the tale of the tape in Sunday’s final round of the 79th Lonesome Pine Country Club Invitational.
At the turn, first-round leader Bryan Sangid, Carlson Cox and Bryan Bentley were all tied at 4 under par for the tournament, a stop on the Food City Tri- Cities Amateur Tour. Cox played the final nine holes in even par and clipped Bentley by a stroke to take the title.
Cox finished with a two-day total of 4-under 138 after shooting rounds of 69-69, and Bentley was second at 139 (71-68). Sasha Catron slipped into third after shooting a 143 (72-71).
Sangid struggled on the back and finished in a tie for fourth with Bill Damron at 144.
“It was really tight at the turn,’’ Cox said. “But coming off my win at Graysburg, I’ve learned how to cope with the pressure of being in the lead. I really thought that was the difference today.’’
While Cox was playing it slow and steady over the last nine holes, Bentley tripped up with a bogey on the difficult par-3 10th and a double bogey on the short par-5 12th.
“Those two holes cost me the tournament,’’ he said. “Overall I had played well both days. It just came down to a couple of holes.’’
Bentley recovered but still trailed by two shots going to the 18th. He birdied while Cox made par for the final margin of victory.
Cox finished his round with birdies at the par-5 seventh, par-4 ninth and par-5 14th. He had a lone bogey on his card Sunday.
“It all comes back to my short game,’’ Cox said. “To get around this golf course you really have to have a good short game.
“I was a little frustrated today because I couldn’t have hit it any better. The putts just wouldn’t drop. You had to play break on 2-footers. Patience on the greens way the key.
“But I’ve had a good summer and my confidence is pretty high right now,’’ he added.
Cox will take his victory and head to next weekend’s 60th Ridgefields Country Club Invitational.
J.R. Smith and Bobby Fox successfully defended their crowns in the senior divisions.
Smith won the senior flight by four strokes after a two-day 141 (70-71). Ron McCall was second at 145 (76-69).
Fox also had a four-shot victory, winning the super seniors crown with a score of 144 (73-71). Junior Marshall was second at 148 (74-74).